CHAPTER 4 * Carefulness.
The children of the Conqueror who thus have firmly grasped this bodhichitta, should never turn aside from it, strive never to transgress its disciplines.
Whatever was begun without due heed, and all that was not properly conceived, although a promise and a pledge were given, it is right to reconsider: shall I act or not?
Yet what the Buddhas and their heirs have scrutinized in their great wisdom, I myself have probed and scrutinized. Why should I now procrastinate?
For if I bind myself with promises but fail to carry out my words in deed, then every being will have been betrayed. What destiny must lie in store for me?
If in the teachings it is said that those who in their thoughts intend to give a small and paltry thing but then draw back will take rebirth as hungry spirits,
How can I expect a happy destiny if from my heart I summon wandering beings to the highest bliss, but then deceive and fail them?
As for those who, losing bodhichitta, lead others nonetheless to liberation, karmic law is inconceivable and only understood by the Omniscient.
This failure, for the Bodhisattva, if the gravest of all downfalls. For should it ever come to pass, the good of every being is thrown down.
And anyone who, for a single instant, halts the merit of a Bodhisattva wanders endlessly in evil states, because the welfare of all beings is reduced.
Destroy a single being’s joy and you will work the ruin of yourself. No need to speak of bringing low the joy of beings infinite as space itself!
And those who circle in samsara, mixing powerful downfalls with the power of bodhichitta back and forth, will long be hindered from the Bodhisattva grounds.
And so, according to my promise, I will act attentively, from this day forth, if I now fail to strive, I’ll fall from low to even lower states.
Striving for the benefit of all that lives, unnumbered Buddhas have already lived and passed away. But I, by virtue of my sins, have failed to come within the compass of their healing works.
And this will always be my lot if I continue to behave like this, and I will suffer pains and bondage, wounds and laceration in the lower realms.
The appearance of the Buddhas in the world, true faith and the attainment of a human form, an aptitude for good: all these are rare. When will they come to me again?
Today, indeed, I’m hale and well, I have enough to eat and I am not in danger. But this life is fleeting, unreliable, my body is like something briefly lent.
And yet the way I act is such that I shall not regain a human life! And losing this, my previous human form, my evils will be many, virtues none.
Here is now my chance for wholesome deeds, but if I fail to practice virtue, what will be my lot, what shall I do, bewildered by the sorrows of the lower realms?
Never, there, performing any virtue, only ever piling up my sins, and for a hundred million ages, I’ll not even hear of happy destinies.
This is why Lord Buddha has declared that like a turtle that perchance can place its head within a yoke adrift upon the mighty sea this human birth is difficult to find!
If through the evil action of a single instant I must spend an aeon in the hell of Unrelenting Pain, the evils in samsara stored from time without beginning -- no need to say that they will keep me from the states of bliss!
And mere experience of such pain does not result in being freed from it. For in the very suffering of such states, more evil will occur, and then in great abundance.
Thus, having found this moment of reprieve, if I now fail to train myself in virtue, what greater folly could there ever be? How more could I betray myself?
If having understood al this, I’m stupidly despondent still, then at the moment of my death, my sorrows will be black indeed.
And when my body burns so long in fires of hell so unendurable, my mind, there is no doubt, will also be tormented, burned in fires of unendurable regret.
For it’s as if by chance that I have gained this state so hard to find, wherein to help myself. If now, while having such discernment, I am once again consigned to hell.
I am as if benumbed by sorcery, as if reduced to total mindlessness. I do not know what dulls my wits, O what is it that has me in its grip?
Anger, lust, these enemies of mine, are limbless and devoid of faculties. They have no bravery, no cleverness; how then have they reduced me to such slavery?
They dwell within my mind and at their pleasure injure me. All this I suffer meekly, unresenting -- thus my abject patience, al displaced!
If all the gods and demigods besides together came against me as my foes, they would be powerless to throw me down to fires of hell of Unrelenting Pain.
And yet the mighty fiend of my afflictions flings me in an instant headlong down to where the mighty lord of mountains would be burned, its very ashes all consumed.
O my enemy, afflictive passion, endless and beginningless companion! No other enemy indeed is able to endure so long!
All other foes that I appease and wait upon will show me favors, give me every aid, but should I serve my dark defiled emotions, they will only harm me, draw me down to grief.
If thus my ancient and unceasing foes, the wellspring only of my growing pain, can lodge so safe within my heart, how can I live so blithe and fearless in this wheel of life?
And if the jail guards of the prisons of samsara, the butchers and tormentors of infernal realms, all lurk within me in the web of craving, what joy can ever be my destiny?
I will not leave the fight until, before my eyes, these enemies of mine are all destroyed. For if, aroused to fury by the merest slight, incapable of sleep until the scores are settled,
Proud but wretched rivals, destined al to suffer when they die, will draw the battle lines and do their best to win, and careless of the pain of cut and thrust, will stand their ground refusing to give way,
No need to say that I will not lose heart, regardless of the hardships of the fray. From this day forth I’ll strive to crush these foes whose very nature is to bring me pain.
The wounds inflicted by the enemy in futile wars are flaunted by the soldier as a prize. So in the high endeavor, for so great a thing, why should I be dismayed by hurt or injury?
When fishers, butchers, farmers, and the like, intending just to gain their livelihood, will suffer all the miseries of heat and cold, why, for beings’ happiness, should those like me not bear the same?
When I pledged myself to free from their afflictions beings who abide in every region, stretching to the limits of the sky, I was myself not free from such defilements.
To speak like that, not knowing my capacity, were these not, truly, but a madman’s words? more reason then for never drawing back abandoning the fight against defiled affliction.
This shall be my all-consuming passion. Filled with rancor I will wage my war! Defilement of this king will halt defilement and for this reason it shall not be spurned.
Better if I perish in the fire, better that my head be severed from my body than ever I should serve or reverence my mortal enemies, defiled emotions.
Common foes, when driven from the state, retreat and base themselves in other lands, and muster all their strength the better to return. But enemy afflictions are without such stratagems.
Miserable defilements, scattered by the eye of wisdom! Where will you now run, when driven from my mind? Whence would you return to do me harm? But oh, my mind is feeble. I am indolent!
Defilements are not in the object, nor within the faculties, nor somewhere in between. And if not elsewhere, where is their abode, whence they inflict their havoc on the world? They are simple mirages, and so take heart! Banish all your fear and strive to know their nature. Why suffer needlessly the pains of hell?
This is how I should reflect and labor, that I might apply the precepts thus set forth. What invalids in need of medicine ignored their doctor’s words and gained their health?